Night of the Creeps is pure B-movie greatness…
The film opens on a spaceship as 1 small alien is chased down a hallway by 2 others. He is carrying a large canister & the 2 chasing are trying to shoot him with blaster guns. The costumes on these little guys are equally funny & disturbing with pink, hairless bodies, enlarged heads & a gruesome fixed face.
The chase ends with the canister carrying alien blasting it out into space. The canister crash lands on Earth where its landing is seen by 2 college kids in 1959 on a date. They decide to go investigate & he leaves her sitting in the car & goes wandering off to find it in the woods.
As she waits a radio broadcast plays out a warning that a crazed axe-murder has escaped the local institution after killing 4 orderlies & was last seen in the exact location that she is sitting. As she freaks out we see a man holding a bloody axe slowly & quietly approaching her. Meanwhile the boy has found the canister with what looks like slugs/worms squirming inside. The glass breaks & one of them shoots out directly into his mouth.
The last part of the opening sees the girl getting more & more frightened as the killer approaches. He raises his axe & brings it down on her…
Fast-forward to 1986 & we are introduced to Chris Romero & his handicapped friend J.C. Chris is on a bit of a downer as he just broke up with his girlfriend but when he sees Cynthia Cronenberg outside college he falls head over heels for her. He wants to win her over so he thinks joining a fraternity will impress her being as she belongs to a sorority house. J.C agrees to help him in their pledge which is to get a dead body from a local medical facility & dump it on the lawn of the sorority house.
Unknown to the duo the leader of fraternity is actually dating Cynthia & has no intention of allowing them to join. Chris & J.C manage to get into a secret room at the medical facility where they find the body of the college boy from 1959 in a cryogenic chamber. They decide to take this body but as they try to carry it off his eyes open & he grabs them. They freak out & run back to their dorm room passing by a startled researcher who investigates the room. As he leans over the now still body a slug-like creature jumps into his mouth.
Detective Ray Cameron (played by a top form Tom Atkins) is an old-school cop with a heavily sarcastic tone, he is haunted by dreams of what happened to his love back in 1959, the girl murdered in the car by the axe murderer. He is called to the medical facility under the impression that there are 2 bodies but only finds 1. The missing body is the one that was in the cryogenic chamber…
Meanwhile over at the sorority house Cynthia is getting ready for bed (gratuitous boob shot) when she hears a noise at her window. The walking corpse is at her window & his head splits open scattering leech like creatures everywhere.
When Detective Ray Cameron arrives on the scene he finds the corpse with its head split open…the wound looking quite like an axe wound to him.
The next day Chris & J’C get into a confrontation with the frat boys who think they dumped the corpse on the lawn. Shortly afterwards the duo are questioned by the Ray after being seen by the janitor felling the scene of the medical facility. They own up to having been there but deny moving the body.
Later that night the dead body of the researcher killed by the cryogenic man gets back up & attacks the janitor.
Back at the sorority house the dead & buried house cat of one of the girls comes back from the dead. Cynthia tells Chris & J.C about what she saw that night. J.C sees that he is playing 3rd wheel so leaves them to it. He goes into a bathroom & the now dead janitor follows unleashing more creatures.
J.C tries to fight them off but is disability forces him to have to crawl & one enters his mouth. We do see that they are extremely weak to fire though.
Meanwhile Chris has walked Cynthia back to her sorority house followed by Detective Ray who overheard their conversation. He swaps stories with Chris about childhood sweethearts & we learn that he tracked down the axe-murder back in the 50’s, killed him & buried him where the sorority house mothers cottage sits.
The house mother is asleep in her chair when a rotting corpse smashes through the floor & kills her with an axe. Ray is called to action & alongside more police they track it down to an alleyway. It is the corpse of the long-dead axe murderer & gunshots have little effect until Ray blows its head off with his shotgun – we see more slug-like creatures scatter from his remains.
It’s the night of the formal dance & the frat boys & sorority girls are going out to party. We see Cynthia’s ex-boyfriend getting drunk & turning up at her house to confront her before a possessed dog attacks him & implants him. Chris is getting ready to go pick up Cynthia when he finds a tape-recording from J.C explaining that one of the creatures is in his brain & he knows heat will kill them. Chris finds J’C’s body in boiler room alongside the remains of some of the creatures.
Elsewhere the frat boys are involved in a bus accident that kills them all before they are possessed & rise from the dead. Detective Ray is preparing to kill himself by gas explosion until Chris arrives & ask for his help. They go & get a flamethrower from the police armoury before heading to the sorority house. Cynthia is trying to apologise to her ex unknown that he is dead already. Chris saves her as the rest of the fraternity turn up.
After fighting those off they see the remaining creatures heading for the sorority house basement where science projects (specimen brains) are kept. When they arrive down there they find Detective Ray splashing gas around & he gives them 20 seconds to leave before blowing the house up.
There are 2 endings to Night of the Creeps:
1. The dog from earlier returns & opens its mouth. Then one of the slug-like creatures shoots out.
2. Chris & Cynthia are standing in front of the burning sorority house. The burned corpse of Ray is shuffling down a nearby street when it falls over splitting open sending creatures scattering into a nearby cemetery. Lastly the alien ship from the beginning appears & hovers over the cemetery effectively proposing a sequel.
That second one is actually considered the original ending but wasn’t shown on theatrical releases – I did see the film with that ending though & it was pretty cool.
Cool….that is the best way to sum up Night of the Creeps….
The movie has some laughable plot hole at times & dire acting scattered throughout but assembled a mostly likeable cast so its faults are easily overlooked.
Take the beginning for example, why does he leave her in the car & how can’t see hear the axe murderer approaching! It’s silly but instantly forgiven as she tries to tempt her man back by shouting that “she will let him fondle her breasts”. I laughed at that….
Chris is an instant wet-blanket & does not appear heroic in anyway, in fact J.C is far more likeable & it comes as a serious surprise when he is killed off.
The star of the show is Detective Ray Cameron whose needless sarcasm is a lot of fun & I really liked the murder of the axe killer subplot. He has the best lines such as when talking with Chris about lost loves & basically repeats what he said word for word.
This catchphrase of “thrill me” works just about & as the end countdown reaches 0 & Chris repeats it outside the sorority house I smiled. Until it was pointed out to me that Ray had never said the words in front of Chris so him repeating it in reference (which he does) makes no sense. Ah well….
The make-up is pretty good with the corpses looking suitably dead even if the blood is far too bright (at times bordering on pink). There aren’t bundles of gore & surprisingly the first half of the movie tries to shy away from it. Any death scenes involve an instant black screen & onto the next part of the movie. This changes when the axe murderer attacks the house mother & we get a split-second shot of an axe to the head before the black screen re-appears.
Further on it gets a bit nastier especially when Chris comes to deal with Cynthia’s ex. That bit looks horribly fake but is very entertaining.
I love that, like most classic 80’s B-movie’s, the movie has a bit more of a downbeat ending & hints towards potential sequels. This applies to both endings for Night…
Oh & did you notice that every characters last name is named after a famous horror/sci-fi director? Cameron, Cronenberg, Romero etc…
It’s nice to see a zombie movie from the 80’s thinking outside the box & considering the high-calibre of movies that came out around then it stands up really well. It’s faults are easily overlooked as the movie has high-entertainment & Tom Atkins is at his best.
“The good new is your dates are here, the bad news…they’re dead”.
Night of the Creeps